Design and Consulting
Campaign to Stop Junk Email
irritating. It's rude. It's stupid. In short, it's a Really Bad Idea.
Let's put an end to Junk Email right now.
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Lately I have been getting more and more unsolicited commercial email
("Junk email," also called "spam"). And, frankly, I'm damn
sick of it.
is directed primarily at the victims of junk email, which generally means
recipients, although junk emailers certainly cause systems operators and
others big headaches, as well. Our goal is to eliminate all junk email.
this goal, we will attempt to teach victims and potential victims (that's
everyone with an email address) the most effective methods of prevention
and retribution. We also hope to get current and potential junk emailers
to see the error of their ways by making them see it from the victim's
point of view, and getting them to understand why postage-due marketing
isn't very effective.
and tactics found on this site will (and have) gotten individual spammers
kicked off the Internet, and will help reduce the amount of spam you receive,
but ultimately these tactics are treating the symptom instead of the disease.
After more than five years of battling junk email, it has become obvious
to me that the problem is not going to be solved without some sort of
I have been
very hesitant to actually advocate this, however, because I fear that
the US government tends to over-regulate things it doesn't understand
(note that I was a plaintiff in the ultimately successful lawsuit
against the Communications Decency Amendment).
Big ISPs like
AOL have successfully sued spammers for tresspass and theft of service
under current laws, but the level of lawyer power necessary to do that
isn't available to the average junk email victim. We need a real legal
tool to force junk emailers to stop their tresspass in our inboxes. Such
a tool has been available to prevent the cost-shifting associated with
junk faxes, and has worked well.
The junk email
situation is rapidly becoming unmanageable, and threatens to destroy email
as a useful means of communication. The sheer volume junk email has exploded,
according to our own incoming spam stream and other monitoring sites on
the Internet. According to a recent European Union study,
junk email costs all of us some 9.4 billion (US) dollars per year,
and many major ISPs say that spam adds 20% of the cost of their service.
We are being forced to subsidize spammers.
This is unacceptable.
to try something else
junk-email apologists might try to tell you, junk email is not an issue
of free speech, it is a property rights issue. ISPs and individuals
pay for and own their own equipment and email boxes, and they have every
right to decide what traffic they are going to carry. You pay for and
own your car, your home, and your fax machine, and no one has the right
to force you to carry and display advertising on that property. Your email
in-box is no different.
want no restrictions on spamming, like the Direct Marketing Association
(DMA), decry any restriction as unneeded government regulation, and say
that the industry should regulate itself. Well,
I don't have to rely on any other industry to "self-regulate"
their use of my private property without my permission. I see any reason
to start now.
In any case,
we've spent 5 years waiting for the marketing industry to regulate itself,
and our inboxes are drowning in more spam than ever. "Self-regulation"
on the part of the marketing industry has been a spectacular failure.
to try something else.
to Stop Junk Email proposes simply extended the protection of the current
law banning unsolicited commercial fax (the Telephone
Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. § 227,) to
also cover unsolicited commercial email. Under such a ban individuals
would still be free to solicit advertisements (an opt-in system), so one
could request commercial solicitations if one prefers. A critical feature
of this approach is the private right of action, which allows individuals
to sue violators for US$500 per violation, plus damages up to $1,500.
This gives victims a real tool to force junk emailers to stop their tresspass.
junk email legislation currently being considered recently had this individual
right of action removed while in committee by allies of the DMA. Under
the current proposed legislation, you would have to convince a state attorney
general to sue the spammer on your behalf.
the proposed legislation now has a "one bite at the apple" approach,
under which spammers would get to legally send you one message, after
which you could opt-out.
We do not
support any legislation that legitimizes "remove" requests (opt-out).
That is an unworkable solution that would only make the junk email problem
There are 22 million small businesses in the United States, according
to the Small Business Administration. To understand why this "opt-out"
approach is A Bad Idea, imagine that each year, merely 1% of those businesses
decided to send you just one of those introductory spams. On average,
you'd have to sort 675 junk email messages per day from your legitimate
mail (and reply to them, asking to be removed in order to avoid more)1.
This is insufficient
I want the
ability to say no to trespass in my mailbox, and the legal ability to
force spammers to listen when I say no. I want the same legal tools available
that I have when pretecting my other property from tresspass and abuse.
the $500 fine provision of the TCPA have nearly eliminated unsolicited
commercial fax. What is so hard about applying the same law to unsolicited
Here's the harsh reality: Major campaign contributors like the DMA get
what they want from legislators. They bought them seat, they own them.
face it: the legislators are always going to do what their biggest contributors
want, if at all possible. If you don't believe me, just look at the history
of the state and federal legislation so far: every time a potent anti-spam
bill comes up, it is eviscerated in committee by allies of the marketing
industry after their lobbying, just a surely as if it went down a dark
alley with Jack the Ripper.
The only way to counteract that sort of powerful influence is to make
it so publicly embarrassing to do what the DMA wants that the legislators can't risk doing it. We need high-profile public figures and widely-redognized
technical gurus to accomplish this goal. Someone like a Bill Gates, Scott
McNealy, Steve Jobs, or Larry Elison.
In the meantime,
I urge you to contact your Representatives in Congress and your Senator.
Tell them you want real relief from this flood of junk email, and that
what has been proposed is a cure worse than the disease.
of reading email is shamefully spotty, so use paper snail-mail for maximum
impact. I also recommend visiting CAUCE,
who organizes political preassure to ban junk email. We all need to get
behind this effort to protect our in-boxes from the scourge of junk email,
because you can bet your head that powerful commercial interests continue
lobbying hard to defeat us.
C. Rivard, 13 June 2001, Detroit,
items Time-critical items you can take action on
from the Front Media reports on the Junk Email battle
Junk Email is A Bad Thing
you can help join the fight
Links reciprocal anti-junk email sites
What you should
do (and not do) when you have been victimized by a junk emailer.
Not To Do Stuff that doesn't work
to do effective techniques, including how to trace junk email back
to its source
Calm (take a deep breath...)
Mad (don't get discouraged)
Gather info, how to identify the sender and who gives them Internet
Who to complain to, abuse addresses, online services
What to say and how to say it, effective complaining, leveraging
illegal scam messages, phone calls, faxes.
How to minimize
the amount of junk email you receive, and discourage people from sending
you junk email.
Lists Do they work?
Online has some nice blocking features
Mailing List Precautions LISTSERV, Majordomo, ListProc, etc.
Precautions Biggest source of junk email addresses
to help you understand junk email and how it (doesn't) work
Junk Email FAQ Frequently-Asked Questions and answers about junk
We Should Think About Junk Email Philosophies of (un)acceptability
It's Done Know Your Enemy.
of Address Collection
Letters and Ponzi (Pyramid) Schemes
Lists and why they don't work
Net Companies and their Sometimes Unhelpful Attitudes
Resources Links to other anti-junk email sites and related materials
You Shouldn't Advertise by Email Guidance for current and potential
ISPs Can Do Advice for Internet Service Providers
- See Tigerden's
excellent round-up of Existing
and Emerging Laws on Junk E-mail and take some political action
on them, before it's too late! Write your legislators and governors
to Wired News article,
New Jersey Representative Chris Smith has introduced the The
Netizens Protection Act of 1997 (H.R. 1748), a Federal anti-junk
email bill in the US Congress that will outlaw junk email outright.
It will attempt to amend the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act,
which outlawed junk faxes, by adding email provisions. Write your
Representative and tell them you support this effort! You can check
to see if your rep is wired enough to have a Web page. Snail-mail
letters are probably given more consideration. [added 22 May 1997]
- The Unsolicited
Commercial Email Choice Act of 1997 (S. 771) has been introduced
in the US Senate by Alaska Senator Frank Murkowski. Full
text of the bill and an introductory
summary (read on the floor of the Senate) are available online.
This bill would not completely ban junk email, but it would require
junk email to be labeled ("Advertisement" as the first word of the Subject)
for blocking and filtration and mandate honoring of remove requests,
with penalties up to $11,000 for violations. [added 22 May 1997]
- The New
York State Assembly is considering
legislation to ban junk email. There is online information available
about the bills, Assembly
bill A06805 and Senate
bill S03524. Both versions have been referred to the Committee on
Consumer Affairs and Protection. New York State residents should contact
their legislators to offer their support. [added 11 April 1997]
call or write your
legislators (especially those on the
judiciary committee): They are considering a
bill to ban junk email! See February 27, 1997 AP article "Nevada
may ban e-mail advertisements" [added 27 February 1997]
WWW Survey The premier Web survey. This year, it includes several
questions about junk email and internet marketing. Survey closes
November 10! [added 4 November 1996]
about Junk Email Register your opinion! [item added 29 October 1996]
Nevada Law Portends Tough Fight for Spam Foes" by Jeri Clausing,
The New York Times, July
20, 1997--The Direct Marketing Association manages to turn the Neveda
anti-spam law into a pro-spam law at the last-minute!
Very dissappointing, and a wake-up call to anti-junk-emailer forces
about the money and political power of the junk-mail industry.
slows WorldNet mail" by Courtney Macavinta, C|net
News.com, July 16, 1997--AT&T's Worldnet
internet service was so clogged with outgoing mass junk email that legitimate
mail was delayed for more than a day. The junk email, from more than
one of their customers, was eventually deleted from the mail queue.
The identities of the customers were not released.
emailer fights for access" by Janet Kornblum, C|net
News.com, July 3, 1997--Cyber Promotions is getting kicked off
of ISP ATX Telecommunications Services
because it violated the rules of ATX' upstream provider, IDCI
by sending out bulk junk email. The article indicates this action is
a direct result of massive victim complaints to IDCI, as well as other
ISPs blocking all traffic from IDCE because of junk email.
of spam meets its maker" by Janet Kornblum, C|net
News.com, July 2, 1997--Hormel
Foods Corporation lawyers have sent a Cease and Desist letter to
Sanford Wallace of Cyberpromo, ordering him to stop using the name "Spam,"
on which Hormel has a trademark. Apparently Hormel feels that Wallace
is giving their lunchmeat a bad name.
users declaring war on junk e-mail" by Robert Gebeloff, The
Bergen Record, June 8, 1997--Nice, concise overview of the junk
email issue and pending legislation about it.
don't hold their fire" by Janet Kornblum, C|net
News.com, May 29, 1997--AGIS CEO Phil Lawlor admits that his
junk-emailing customers, including CyberPromo, have continued to spam
despite their promise to stop sending junk email as of Saturday, 24
May 1997. This is a huge embarassment to AGIS, who had announced the
cease-fire as the first action of its manditory-membership (for AGIS
customers) Internet E-Mail Marketing Council (IEMMC), which AGIS touted
as a "solution" to the junk email issue.
Spam Bill Proposes Filters, Not Bans", Wired
News, May 21, 1997--Alaska Senator's legislation would mandate
tagging, but not ban junk email.
Anti-Spam Bill on the Way", Wired
News, May 15, 1997--New Jersey Representative Chris Smith is
getting ready to introduce a bill that will outlaw junk email outright.
It will attempt to amend the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act,
which outlawed junk faxes, by adding email provisions.
may ban e-mail advertisements"; Associated Press story available
on The Nando Times, February
27, 1997--Nevada's legislature is considering a
bill that would ban junk email. It is currently in the senate judiciary
committee. (see Action Items)
spammer won't quit"; C|Net News.com,
November 7, 1996--Cyberpromo is in court again, this time claiming AOL's
junk email filter violates antitrust laws.
emailer down for the count"; C|Net News.com,
November 4, 1996--Federal judge has ruled that AOL is not a public forum,
and thus first amendment arguement for junk email is bogus.
emailer back on Sprint, temporarily"; C|Net News.com,
October 30, 1996--Cyber Promotions will be allowed to use Sprint till
November 15. They are shopping for new ISPs.
Spammer Is On The Verge Of Bankruptcy"; Inter@ctive Week,
October 24, 1996--CyberPromotions is about to belly-up now that their
net access has been yanked by Sprint; meanwhile they are being sued
by AOL, CompuServe, Prodigy, SprintNet and Concentric Networks.
wins order against spam mailer; AOL debuts anti-junk mail tool";
PC Week Online, October 24, 1996
Porno Messages May Be Hoax"; Computer News Daily, October
23, 1996--Recent child-porn message (itself a particularly disgusting
junk email) may have been prank targeted at a junk emailer.
spams: Online guides to thwarting junk E-mail"; PC Week Online,
October 14, 1996 (Jeff's Internet Adventure column)
Spam King Taunts and Tests His Foes"; The New York Times,
October 10, 1996
e-mail wars heat up again AOL reinstitutes its shield against marketers'
bulk mailings, but the case is still being fought in the courts--and
on the Web"; Money Daily, September 27, 1996
War on Junk E-Mail Escalates, but to Little Avail"; The New York
Times, September 26, 1996 (free registration required to access
full text online)
E-Mail: Obnoxious and Profitable"; The New York Times, September
Blocked in Junk E-Mail Battle"; Computer News Daily, September
lets AOL block email"; C|Net/News.com, September 20, 1996
AOL resumes email blocking"; C|Net/News.com, September 20,
junk e-mail"; San Jose Mercury News, September 19, 1996
and e-mail help them save, but we pay (of course)"; San Jose
Mercury News, September 15, 1996
York's Panix Service Is Crippled by Hacker Attack"; The New York
Times, September 14, 1996--Discusses Panix' AOL-like junk email
filtering and a possibly related Syn-flood attack.
asks court to allow junk email ban"; C|Net/News.com, September
Prevents AOL From Blocking E-Mail"; The New York Times, September
fights to ban junk email"; C|Net/News.com, September 6, 1996
"Online Service Blocks 'Junk' E-Mail Aimed at Subscribers"; The
New York Times, September 5, 1996
to block junk e-mail, Spamming is No. 1 complaint to online service";
San Jose Mercury News, September 5, 1996
of "Spam?" Junk e-mail delivers headaches to users"; CNNfn
(The Financial Network), July 30, 1996
"AOL and Marketer Do Battle Over Mass E-Mailings"; The New York
Times, July 4, 1996
Discover The Internet..."; Computer News Daily, June 25,
And How To Avoid Them"; Computer News Daily, June 25, 1996
Pen Junk E-Mail Guidelines"; Inter@ctive Week, June 24, 1996--Electronic
junk mail now has the blessing of one of the industry's most influential
Magistrate Decides AOL Ad Case"; The New York Times, May
Spam, Spam, Spam..."; The Netly News, April 3, 1996
Off Junk E-Mail"; The New York Times,March 8, 1996--discusses
junk email versus junk snail mail and "do-not-mail" lists
to keep the spam off your e-mail plate"; Money Daily, February
the Junk Email Stop, Please? column by Kim Komando (date unknown)
for the Soul of the Internet"; Time, July 25, 1994
Junk email is
recipient of the advertising is forced
to pay the cost of the message. People pay for an email
mailbox for various reasons, but not because they want to receive advertising.
It costs the recipient real money in terms of extra connect-time charges,
phone time charges, disk space, and lowered bandwidth. This is similar
to the cost-shifting incurred with unsolicited faxed advertisements,
which were made illegal in the US for that very reason.
costs real money. Junk email wastes recipient's valuable time,
because they have to spend extra time to download the unwanted messages,
and then to wade through the junk email in order to get to the email
they actually want. This costs real money in terms of productive time
wasted sorting, identifying, and discarding unwanted junk email.
email clogs up people's email boxes, mingling with and sometimes
even preventing receipt of legitimate email. As more
people conduct more business over the Net, this type of disruption can
cost even more money.
may cause employers to pull employee internet email access,
because they don't want to pay money for their employees to receive
advertisements, nor for the lost productivity of their employees wasting
(employer-paid) time identifying and discarding junk email. This lessens
diversity of the community and hurts the Internet as a whole, and hurts
the advancement of the Internet as a medium for commerce.
is contrary to the helpful and personal culture of the Internet
The reason the Internet and interactive communication in general has
become so popular is because of the personal one-to-one interaction
possible with this technology. People from all over the world have helped
each other with problems ranging from the technical to the intensely
personal. Impersonal mass-emailings are the antithesis of the an Internet
is inappropriate and contrary to the interactive nature of the Internet
medium. Junk email is barely interactive at best, and is often
not interactive at all, because the sender forged a fake return address
to avoid retribution. It is sender-oriented push advertising, not an
interactive, recipient-centered pull of information. Junk email is based
on outdated advertising model.
discourages people from participating in the Internet The saddest
thing of all about junk email is that it subtly destroys the things
that made the Internet so attractive to people in the first place.
People are already withdrawing from participating in Usenet, because
junk emailers collect most of their addresses from Usenet. This harms
everyone who has benefited from the advice and emotional support other
people have provided through Usenet. People who gave the most back to the Internet,
by posting the most responses to Usenet questions, are the most likely
to be abused by junk email. People who do still participate are forced
to provide false addresses, making direct communication difficult or
For the same reason, some people are not putting their email addresses
on their Web pages anymore, making it harder to communicate feedback
and opinion. In this way, junk email stifles communication, making the
Web more like television: a one-way medium.
People are also attempting to get their email addresses out of publicly-available
directories due to junk email, just like people unlist their telephone
numbers to avoid telemarketing calls. Friends who have lost contact
cannot reestablish communication by email.
on the Net and my own mailbox are any indication, junk email is increasing
dramatically. The reason it is growing in popularity among advertisers
seems to be combination of
- A growing
mainstream awareness of the Internet (note that I said "awareness,"
- The popular
media picture of the Net as "hip" and the Next Big Marketplace, and
- The fact
that junk email is unbelievably inexpensive, even compared to the incredible
bargain of junk snail mail. (Of course, part of the cheapness for the
sender is due the fact that the costs have been shifted
to the recipients, who are actually unwillingly paying to receive
effective strategy to combat junk email, therefore, is to lessen or mitigate
these three factors.
factor is only going to get worse, and the only way to improve it is to
increase understanding along with the inevitable increase in awareness.
To this end, we should all try to correct any misperceptions about the
function or culture of the Net that we see in the media, via letters to
the editor, open debate, etc.
factor, the trendiness of the Net as a commercial medium, is probably
hardest to mitigate. But it will also probably fade on its own over the
next couple of years, as more people get on the Net and the novelty wears
off. The Future of Net commerce is beyond the scope of this document,
but suffice it to say that the Net will soon be as ubiquitous as the telephone,
and we don't really distinguish "telephone commerce" from other types.
It's just another method of conducting business.
factor, the inexpensiveness of junk email, is where we can have the most
effect. Until the cost burden of junk email can be shifted back to the
advertisers, junk email will flourish.
cost to the advertiser's end of the equation must be our primary focus.
all, if you have any ideas to improve this
page and/or help deal with junk email, by all means send
don't let junk email go unpunished. If you just delete
it and don't complain, your silence indicates acceptance. The only way
to stop junk email is to change the
situation so that it is no longer worthwhile to send junk email. To
accomplish this, you must take action.
make your voice heard via the Action Items
feel free to copy the icons below for use on your own Web pages. I'd
appreciate an acknowledgement with a link back to this page, and an email
letting me know you used a logo and where. Other than that, I currently
have no other restrictions on their Internet use because I want the Stop
Junk Email message disseminated as widely as possible. However, I still
retain the copyright on these images, and I reserve the legal right to
change this usage policy in the future if I feel it is being abused--for
example, if a blatant junk emailer used a logo on their site in an effort
to disguise their true intentions. If you want to use these logos in media
other than the Web (including but not limited to print, television, CD-ROM,
etc.) you need to get my permission first.
NoJunkEmailStatSmall.gif (GIF format, 90 by 72 pixels, about 12K)
NoJunkEmailStat.gif (GIF format, 250 by 200 pixels, about 18K)
NoJunkEmailSmall.gif (Animated GIF format, loops forever, 90 by 72 pixels,
Again, I would
appreciate it if you made these graphics hot links back to this page, something
NoJunkEmail.gif (Animated GIF format, two loops, 250 by 200 pixels, about
<IMG SRC="NoJunkEmailSmall.gif" ALT="Stop Junk Email Logo"
WIDTH="90" HEIGHT="72"> Stop Junk Email Now</A>
sites I am aware of which have linked to the Campaign to Stop Junk Email
home page, and/or are displaying the "No Junk Email" badge of honor. If
I missed your site, let me know and I
will add it. I encourage free use of the "No Junk Email" logo on the Web
as long as you provide credit via a link back to this page (see
terms above--I do still retain the copyright). I assume that a site
displaying the logo agrees with what they find here, but this does not
necessarily mean that I agree with (or am even aware of) all opinions
found at these sites. See legal disclaimers.
- David Topping's
E-mail Now Page
email reading and evaluating. Low cost. A clever tactic.
Touretzky's Home Page
- Dave "Tres
Bizarre" Solko's junk
Unsolicited Junk E-Mail! Featuring Shawn's "Stop Them Spammers Dead!"
(Not the Hormel product) Many worthwhile suggestions and interesting
- Tom Raynor's
I HATE Junk
E-Mail Web Page Good documentation of the phenomenon and big offenders
Info & other cool stuff Part of Mike Cohen's Web site
Lott's misc.invest Investment
UMCC Web page says nice things about the graphic
UCE - Uninvited Commercial E-mail Does Junk Email by any other name
- The Pinkboard
Panther's Junk Email page (Uses some strong language--expletive-allergic
visitors: you've been warned.)
Income Tax and Accounting Services
#CyberChat Home Page
- Mark Neely's
- Fred Elbel's
How to Get Rid of
Junk Mail, Spam, and Telemarketers
Eliasson's Official Total
Waste Of Time Home page
Revenge & Retribution site
- 96, Damar
Group, Ltd., Anti-Spamming
Telemarketing and E-Mail Marketing Consumer
- Ram Avrahami's
on-line privacy petition
M. Hannington's Computer
- Tomas Ahl's
(d.j.) mackenzie's The
Doctor's Home Page
- Pat's Boating
Rådman's home page
- Tilo Sloboda's
pages at UniKA and CMU
- Chuck Biddinger's
page (in German)
- J. Scott
Elam's spam page
- Clyde Sherman's
Roman Web (Rome, Georgia,
- Ray Helie's
if your browser coughs up your email address without your knowledge)
Jaeger's CZAR Software site
- Jim Dawson's
- Chuck Biddinger's
Electronic Repair Company site
Miller's home page
- Annie Hughes'
- Ron Rogers'
junk mail page
Wong Neng Li's page
- Rob Agnew's
- Tony Powell's
"A Quiet Place"
home of the "Pointer"
Major's Tritech Financial Systems Inc.
- Mark Roberts'
- Eric Boshart's
- Chris Parker's
Montgomery's Web page
- Karen Rhodes'
- Steve Schwartz's
California Mustangs site
F. Nemeyer's junk
mail Web pages
- Paul Bunnell'
- Steve Smith's
- David J.
N. Begley's contact
info and email
is including the page in their standard "anti-spam" response (sent to
Erol's customers when they report being annoyed by junk email)
H. Riddle's site
- Bob Fayne's
- Alex Feldstein's
- Ian Hayes'
- Carla Di
Internet Services Webmaster uses the logo on several pages: http://www.sedona.net/,
- Joe Cangero's
- Daryl &
Dina Hinz's page
- Col Freeman's
- Jill Lampi's
- Chuck Cavanaugh's
by a Hong Kong Spammer" page
- Dave Clark's
- Henry Livingston's
- Jevon Nicholas'
site The Acca
- Robyn "Missi"
MacDonald-Phillips' My Clan
- Jon Eaves'
- John A.
Dutka, Jr.'s page
- Jan Pieter
Kunst's Jos Kunst home
Wentworth's Waste of Bandwidth